Okay, I'm bowing to public demand and starting my tour report. It occurred to me that I can do the report now, and that will help me formulate my review, which I will post later, probably next week. For this one, we'll go chronologically, and there's no way I'll get done today. We're running on short sleep after a long day yesterday. Edit: I was wrong; I did get done. Although I cringe to think of all the typos there must be. I'll correct them as I find them.
Day 1: We met our group at the tour hotel, Canterbury Cathedral Lodge. The hotel is actually located on the Cathedral grounds, and is quite nice: clean and modern. There were 24 people in our group, only 2 of whom had never been on a RS tour! That's a first, for us. Our guides are Roy Nicholls and Debi Jo Michael. Roy is a veteran guide who has worked for RS for over 20 years, and Debi Jo works in the RS office. She's the assistant on this trip, in part because she has played a major role in the planning and development.
After the introductory meeting, the group headed into town for our first group dinner, at Deeson's British Restaurant. I had the cheese soufflé with vegetables, and DH had roast chicken breast. He had a delicious chocolate and lemon mousse for dessert, while I enjoyed a cheese tray. The soufflé was very good, albeit tiny. DH was disappointed in the quality of the chicken, however. And we were disappointed, although not surprised, to find that alcoholic beverages are not included on this tour. Darn!
Day 2: We had a nice breakfast in the hotel, before our Cathedral tours. We split into two groups this morning; one group toured the stained glass workshop, while the second toured the Cathedral. Then we switched venues. The stained glass workshop was amazing. We got to see how the old windows are repaired, and how new ones are made. Great tour. The tour of the Cathedral itself was a bit rushed, in part because we were sharing the space with hundreds of very noisy French schoolchildren on field trips. But the tour was worthwhile, although an extra hour would have been appreciated.
The rest of the day was free, until we met to go to our second group dinner at the Whitstable Lobster Shack. The trip to Whitstable was fine, the venue was interesting, but the food was, on the whole, a letdown. Evidently we were late, or they had prepared the food too early, so it wasn't as good as it should have been. The choices included 1/2 lobster, backed cod (I think) and a mixed seafood platter that included oysters, smoked salmon, rollmops (pickled herring, rolled around a filling), shrimp, and various other items. The desserts were good.
Day 3: Today we toured Dover Castle and the Tunnels. On the way, we stopped at the impressive RAF monument, memorializing the pilots who fought the Battle of Britain. Very moving, especially on a foggy morning. Dover Castle was very interesting; I wish we had had more time to explore it. There are great exhibits there, showing what life was actually like. And the Tunnel tour was equally impressive, and again, very moving.
After the Tunnel tour, Roy and Debi Jo treated us to a wonderful picnic on the grounds of the castle. Very nice setting, good food, and our first introduction to cider! This (the setting, the informality of the meal, and the cider) helped loosen people up, and we began to come together as a group here.
After lunch we went to Goodnestone Gardens, where we spent the rest of the afternoon. For some of us, this was our first look at a formal English garden; for others, it was another notch in their garden viewing belt.